Formed in 2005, Angels & Airwaves embraces a sci-fi-meets-rock approach to making music. With the combination of upbeat guitars, a synth undertone and heartbreakingly real lyrics, the band sets out to capture feel-good moments with music.
Their recent release of “Lifeforms” is a perfect example of taking the listener through these emotional highs and lows while tracking that rollercoaster path with hard-hitting rock ‘n’ roll. Leaning into the nostalgia factor rather than straying from it also provides Angels & Airwaves with an intriguing sense of self — one that is more than welcome in today’s trendy take on “retro.” Not just a familiar crutch in an unprecedented time, Angels & Airwaves uses reminiscence to boost the authenticity of “Lifeforms.” The album serves as an incredibly honest homage to the past, while looking toward a future built upon those foundations.
The unexpected combination of sounds and lyrics make each track an instant hit when playing the album top to bottom. From the first listen, the eerie, electronic sound of “Euphoria” pairs with heavy-hitting lines like: “It’s hard to live if you’re hurting/ It’s hard to live when you’ve always been let down.” This duality between a nostalgic sound and a harsh reality is carried and expressed in each song on the album, providing a range of outlets for every mood imaginable. “Lifeforms” brings the listener closer to themselves, while serving a stark reminder of how universal living can be.
With the album arriving seven years after their last album release, the anticipation for the addictive Angels & Airwaves sound has proven to be entirely warranted. The band is reaching a point where they are simply “passionate and unafraid to call things as they are,” and that unabashed truth makes their music stand out as something refreshingly different from tracks on the Hot 100 charts.
Lyrics such as “Do you want to go back to where we started/ back before we were brokenhearted” from “Rebel Girl” echo a past love that has been lost in time. Tying these deep, rarely spoken feelings to the music, Angels and Airwaves show “Lifeforms” to be their most vulnerable and revealing album to date.
Building up “the kind of sound that feels greater than the sum of its parts,” Angels & Airwaves also stay true to themselves by pooling together the best of their abilities for the album. Consisting of Tom DeLonge, David Kennedy, Ilan Rubin and Matt Rubano, the Angels & Airwaves team mixes rock, art and science as the ideal background for their heartfelt positions on humanity.
As some recall the group to be the “spacier” project of singer Tom DeLonge, the band’s lasting sci-fi sound is what makes it timeless. Everything from electronic synth to booming guitar riffs and cries of loneliness, all paired with rich self-awareness, makes up Angels & Airwaves’ latest batch of hits.
“Lifeforms” is also a celebrated response to a series of singles released by the band over the last two years. Following the 2019 releases of the explosive “Rebel Girl” and catchy “Kiss & Tell,” new music from the rock powerhouse has been on the horizon for some time. With the tease of “Spellbound” and “Losing My Mind” added to the mix, the lineup of releases showed that the forthcoming album was to be an extensive look on how it may look and feel to reminisce.
The energy from one song to the next on “Lifeforms” expresses a sonic journey on the album that frontman DeLonge didn’t originally plan. Before becoming a new Angels & Airwaves album, the variety of material led him to ask, “How do we really celebrate all the things I grew up on?”
After the band’s recent performance of new hit “Timebomb” on Jimmy Kimmel, their fans took to the comment section to shout their praises. One enthusiastic fan jokingly writes, “Just when I’m sinking into another inconvenient pit of despair, the angels lift me up into their airwaves.” Referencing the band’s name, the joke encompasses the feeling that listeners get when indulging in Angels & Airwaves’ music — the songs provide a sense of comfort with swelling choruses that resonate. There’s something bigger and grander left for everyone beyond the “Timebomb” of the moment; for example, the lines “It’s possible to hang on/ ‘cause your story isn’t over” are left with the listener long after the song ends.
For those who may be surprised by the combination of “sci-fi meets rock ’n’ roll,” look no further than the interests of the lead singer himself. Tom DeLonge, founder and vocalist of Angels & Airwaves, formed the band as a creative project to showcase his interest in outer space.
With DeLonge already a household name for pop-punk kids because of Blink-182, his obsession with the intersection of art, music and science led him to two new projects today, one being Angels & Airwaves; after leaving Blink-182 in 2015, he also formed To The Stars, a company that specializes in the integration of science-meets-art creativity and discovery.
The dual combination of To the Stars and Angels & Airwaves exhibits DeLonge’s affinity for exploring the scientific unknown balanced with his musical roots. While discussing his interest in UFO studies, he reveals to The Guardian that “It’s really all I’ve ever done outside of music and building a family.” In that same interview, the frontman also addresses the strangeness that has come out of such a career switch: “People were tripping on me for sure… Rock ’n’ roll has a tradition of being genuine and authentic.”
DeLonge’s history and love for music combines with his passion for science to help put this crazy project all together. The authentic products that follow — whether it be new Angels & Airwaves music or another To The Stars project — fully display his willingness to take risks.
During an interview with Mashable on more of his alien pursuits, DeLonge remarks: “These are unnerving waters. Like, this is not the only thing that exists.” The musician and space-enthusiast does not shy away from questioning the status-quo consensus on UFOs or from using his platform to talk about the beings that might also inhabit this universe. His enthusiasm for strange “lifeforms” out in the universe eventually brings him back down to Earth, facilitating the creation of various projects, such as the album with the same name.
So how does Angels & Airwaves prevail with a frontman facing the highs and lows of a career as a rock-star-turned-science-spokesman?
Despite the notion of DeLonge being solely “dedicated to revealing the truth [of] UFOs,” the artist still finds joy in musical pursuits as well. Angels & Airwaves continues to provide this outlet for his music-loving passions, even as his affinity for scientific discovery has grown with his company. As a result, the “Lifeforms” album suddenly became the lovechild of a long-awaited return to music and a subject matter that is wholly “DeLonge.” Playing Angels & Airwaves’ music allows DeLonge to showcase his authentic self to fans, while also going beyond what some may already assume about the artist.
In a statement made for the album “Lifeforms,” DeLonge is quick to acknowledge his musical lineage and prowess: “Punk rock was just a vehicle for emotion. You don’t like the rules put on you, or the way you grew up, or people telling you who you should be. So, you’re pushing back against the system and the music is a vehicle to express anger or pain.”
For DeLonge and the other members of Angels & Airwaves, the band is merely a vessel for the sounds, songs and stories that are the soundtrack to their own lives. At the end of the day, the band is the one place where DeLonge can be both without judgment: the science-lover and the musician.
Though the music of Angels & Airwaves’ “Lifeforms” evokes a more feel-good listening experience, the sentiment overall does seem to embrace more dismal — i.e., real — themes. Revisiting the hope of “Timebomb” exposes the dual emotional conflict of the song; as much as it celebrates a hopeful future, the artist belts out the lines, “Your heart is like a time bomb / and it’s going to start to kill you.” It is then up to the listener to wade through these emotional waves to decide what is worth remembering and what can be left unquestioned.
The sounds of “Lifeforms” are also breaking out of headphones and speakers later this year. With their 2021 tour, Angels & Airwaves are bringing their new album and message to stages across the U.S. Whether sci-fi rock is your jam, or the soothing nostalgia of Angels & Airwaves piques your interest, there is something about “Lifeforms” for everybody to discover.